Intellectual Property Regime Undermines Equity, Progress

Sundaram, Jomo K
Date Written:  2018-02-13
Publisher:  Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières
Year Published:  2018
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX22104

Developing countries must reject the intellectual property rights regime imposed on them by powerful foreign monopolies in recent decades.



Despite their ostensible rationale, the IP standards rich country governments insist on have never been intended to maximize scientific progress and technological innovation. Rather, the IPR regime serves to maximize the profits of influential pharmaceutical and other companies by conferring them with exclusive monopoly rights.

In the pushback, initially led by Nelson Mandela soon after he became South African President under the new dispensation in 1994, developing countries have targeted access to essential medicines. Thus, the 2005 Indian law to conform to the WTO's TRIPs safeguarded access to generic equivalents, as allowed for by the public health exception to TRIPs.

However, the WTO rules disallow Indian generic manufacturers from exporting their medicines to Africa and other poor countries lacking the necessary pharmaceutical manufacturing capacities and capabilities. Even if the African countries could produce the drugs domestically, they would be more expensive as they would lack the economies of scale required to lower costs in their relatively small economies.

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